When we come from a place of service, which is so important in our making a difference for others, we want to do whatever we can to help people.  Often this is uplifting, empowering and useful.  But every once in a while, instead of empowering people to take on the tools that they need to be successful, we enable them by doing the work for them.

This reminds me of an old Japanese proverb: If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day.  If you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.  The first part, just giving something to someone, is enabling if it is done over and over again.  The second part, teaching a person to be self-sufficient, is truly empowering.  You can tell which you are doing by whether you are still needed by the other person over time.

It is so easy for us to slip into enabling, because we have resources and knowledge, and it is sometimes simpler to just do it ourselves for another person than to let them try, make mistakes, learn and grow.  But when we just do it, we do a huge disservice to the person we think we are helping.  They learn nothing at all from the experience, other than that they are somehow “less than” and must rely on others to help them survive and succeed.  Is that really the message we want to be spreading?  Of course not!  So take a look at your actions as you come from a heart of service.  Are you truly serving by empowering people to be successful after you are gone?  If so, great!  If not, start moving toward that approach and REALLY be of service.